Tag Archives: John Cage

I invite you to listen – Music Thinking in Service Design

This year the Design Thinking Conference in Amsterdam was held for the first time. With the theme of the conference – EMPATHY – THROUGH DIFFERENT EYES the organizers were aiming ‘to shake you up and enrich you with new insights, not just leave you comfortable and confirmed in your beliefs. No briefing to the converted, but experimenting, experiencing, having fun and being surprised.

In this regard I was doing one of the breakout sessions with the title:

I invite you to listen

“How can you have empathy with someone you don’t like or don’t understand. That is maybe the most difficult way of having empathy. One way to do this is to close your eyes and listen deeply to what they say. I invite you to listen, to a stranger, to the concept of music thinking and to everything that is around you.”

The Music in You
We started with a short exercise I call: ‘the music in you‘, this is to get to know each other, but also to see if we have a diverse group or not. So with sharing our favourite music and our least favourite music, we gave the stage to every participant to share one by one why they love the music they love.  The other participants were deep listening and empathising with that person, the music or both.  I have done this in many sessions and it is a great way to share things others may not know or like.

John Cage 4’33”
The next part was the introduction of the composer John Cage and his famous piece 4’33’’ from 1952; 4 minutes and 33 seconds of tacit (not playing) in three movements. I explained his quest for the total silence and the disappointment that there is not such a thing. We then did a rehearsal and experienced the piece from a performers point of view.

The Music Thinking Framework
As a third part of the one hour workshop I gave a very short explanation of the music thinking framework and especially two of the six the cues EMPATHY and SCORE which connected the theme of the conference and the score to the silent piece. Feel free to read my other post about the Music Thinking Framework.

I invite you to listen II

Performing John Cage 4’33”
After the lunch break we performed Cage 4’33’’ in front of the complete conference audience of approximately 100 people without telling them what Cage 4’33’’ is all about. What happend the more than 100 attendants of the conference were listening for 4 minutes and 33 seconds to a tacit performed by the Music Thinking Workshop Band. What they heard was not silence, they heard a musical piece, that was composed through their ability to listen what is in the presence.
Please click on the picture below to hear the recording of this memorable moment.

DTConf-433-@ChristofZuern.png

I conducted the piece like written in the score and giving a cue for every movement. What happened is that some of the people misread my last cue and thought the piece was over and started clapping, a nice moment and beautiful sound appeared that quickly faded away and gave the piece an extra tension.

There was no announcement before or after the piece explaining what we did or what the context is. So 4’33” was treated like a ‘normal’ musical piece. Like if you had a short musical intermission by, lets say a small piece from Bach, or a singer songwriter piece, you also would not explain what the piece exactly is about, you were just listening and enjoying.

I recorded the piece with my iPad and uploaded it directly on the John Cage platform. Here is the audio recording and a picture of participants including philosopher André Klukhuhn, who joined us in the workshop (he told me he once also conducted the piece ). We talked about the link between 4’33’ and what he called the ‘god shaped hole’.

Before-the performance.jpg

Right before the performance

During the performance

Performing John Cage 4’33”

thanks to all the participant & the performers of the ‘Music Thinking Workshop band’ you made this a memorable moment!

Christof Zürn, Creative Companion

 

Note: The next Design Thinking Conference will be held in Amsterdam on 11th and 12th of October 2018

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There are many shades of white | Epiphany 2016

As my friends know, I like January 6th! Every year they receive a mail with good wishes on this day.

It’s Epiphany day – the 12th and last day of Christmas. For me it is also the day of changing perspective – a magic pivot. The holiday season is over and we can focus on the coming year.

IwishYOUmanyEPIPHANIES_3

 

A great moment to wish you all the best and:

I wish you many Epiphanies in 2016!

Epiphany also stands for an experience of sudden and striking realization. The word epiphany originally referred to insight through the divine (see the link with the three magi). Today, this concept is used much more often also without such connotations, but a popular implication remains that the epiphany is supernatural, as the discovery seems to come suddenly from the outside. More on this see below.

There are many shades of white

When we were visiting the biennale in Venice last year we also went to the pavilion of Uruguay. When we entered the room, our first thought was that Uruguay did not manage to reach the deadline, because we could – at first sight – not see anything. Only white walls. Nothing there. We just wanted to turn around and stroll further.
But, wait a minute, there are some people close to the walls looking into the deep white space. We went closer and then our eyes adjusted to the bright light and we started to see shapes, forms, shadows of tiny paper objects. The rich world of cut-out white paper on white surface. There were literally Many Shades of White. The artist is Marco Maggi.

It also reminded me of the work of John Cage and his conceptual 4’33” piece about silence. Or better, the ability to focus, listen and look very carefully. A good exercise I want to keep in mind for the coming year. In the hope to get many epiphanies.

 

What exactly is epiphany, here is a collection (repost from 2012):

EPIPHANY is the sudden realization or comprehension of the (larger) essence or meaning of something.

PHILOSOPHICAL meaning: having found the last piece of the puzzle and suddenly seeing the whole picture.

ARCHIMEDES Eureka! I found it!

EINSTEIN was struck as a young child by being given a compass, and realizing that some unseen force in space was making it move.

DARWIN An example of a flash of holistic understanding in a prepared mind was Charles Darwin’s “hunch” (about natural selection) during The Voyage of the Beagle.

JAMES JOYCE Referring to those times in his life when something became manifest, a deep realization, he would then attempt to write this epiphanic realization in a fragment. Joyce also used epiphany as a literary device within each short story of his collection Dubliners (1914) as his protagonists came to sudden recognitions that changed their view of themselves or their social condition and often sparking a reversal or change of heart.

In RELIGION it is used when a person realizes their faith or when they are convinced that an event or happening was really caused by a deity or being of their faith.

WESTERN CHRISTIAN Religion: The adoration of the magi, represented as kings, having found Jesus by following a star 12 days after christmas.

HINDUISM epiphany might refer to the realization of Arjuna that Krishna (a God serving as his charioteer in the “Bhagavad Gita”) is indeed representing the universe.

In ZEN kensho describes the moment, referring to the feeling attendant on realizing the answer to a koan.

BUDDHISM Buddha finally realizing the nature of the universe, and thus attaining nirvana.

WILLIAM BURROUGHS is talking about a drug-influenced state, a frozen moment when everyone sees what is at the end of the fork (naked lunch).

EPIPHANIES is the thirteenth episode of the second season of the reimagined Battlestar Galactica television series.

EPIPHANY is a web browser for the GNOME graphical computing desktop.

HIERONYMUS BOSCH painted the adoration of the magi around 1495.

HOMER SIMPSON has an epiphany, after visiting a strange Inuit shaman, and realizes he has to save the town from Russ Cargill’s plans to destroy Springfield.

The last page of THE WIRE magazine with surprising sonic stories about music is called EPIPHANIES.

Interesting: if you search for Epiphanies or Epiphany on TWITTER many people talk about that they (just) had an epiphany, but don’t exactly say what it was.

mail-epiphany-2016

Christof Zürn,
Nijmegen, 6th of January 2016

 

Need more inspiration?

Please consider to visit my other websites:
www.creative-companion.com for Design Thinking, Service Design, User Experience Design and Online Strategy.
www.MusicThinking.com for inspiration, tools and discussions about how music can help us to be more creative.

10 more Quotes from the Big World of Music for the Rest of the World – Music Thinking Quotes Vol. 2

This is volume 2 of Music Thinking Quotes.

For quite some time I am collecting quotes that have a connection with what I call Music Thinking (more about Music Thinking click here).
At the same time I am working on a more systematic way to collect and combine music thinking principles. I am working now with 6 principles of music thinking: agility, empathy, personality, jammin’, score and remix.
More about that in a later post. (still has to come 😉

Here are 10 more quotes of more or less famous people with a music thinking connection. Hope you like it.

You can also find the presentation on SlideShare (download enabled).